The Fire Festivals
The Fire festivals of Imbolg (Brigantia), Beltane, Lughnasadh (Lammas) and Samhain carry the ritualistic symbol of fire or spiritual light. This spiritual light is often identified with the mysterious light of the Moon. Therefore in astrology the four Fire festivals symbolize the four lunar phases and represent the quarter days even though using the lunar calendar they do not fall exactly on the mid-points between the Solstices and Equinoxes.
Quarter days mark a dissolution of boundaries between the physical and spiritual worlds and that of the natural and supernatural. The Fire festivals are essentially Earth festivals relating to the regeneration of the Earth’s forces with the mysterious aspect of the transformation of and transition between the seasons. As an aspect related to the feminine it is symbolically equated with the feminine Moon as opposed to the masculine aspect of the Sun.
Therefore the four seasons symbolically equate to the four phases of the Earth and the Moon. The four Fire festivals fall in the fixed astrological signs of Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. As astrological markers within the Celtic lunar chart these festivals are representative of the stability and focus of the inner being which never changes and relates to the subconscious self.
The celestial phenomenon known as eclipses involves the Sun, the Moon and the Earth. The Sun, the Moon and the Earth are integral and symbolic to any Celtic tradition and as symbols cannot be fully understood without reference to all three. The Celts believed the dryad tree-spirits of each lunar month were conceived during lunar eclipses. Dryads are the spiritual ethos of creation left behind by the various gods who came to Earth with the first rays of the Sun at the first Winter Solstice. The evolution of humanity and its myriad of lives is believed to have emanated at the same time. The return of the Sun from the mystical realm of Annwn on 24 December marks the beginning of the Celtic solar year and eclipses of the Sun are seen as representative of resurrection and rebirth.
Eclipses can be seen as primeval replays of the spiritual regeneration of the universe. However, as the Moon’s cycle does not equate to exactly 28 days and the inclusions of intercalary days the Lunar calendar only corresponds to the Moon’s cycle once every nineteen years and is known as a Great Lunar Year. The last Great Lunar Year was 24 December 2011 – 23 December 2012.
The Celtic tree signs each represent a lunar month. Each reflecting a duality of character associated with waxing and waning of the Moon. A person born in the first fortnight of a sign is associated with the New Moon and the waxing phase. Likewise a person born in the second fortnight of a sign is associated with the Full Moon and the waning phase. Psychologically this can be seen as the subtle division in dimensions of character. It is these dimensions that are often overlooked by the Graeco-Roman astrologers who only interpret the solar divisions of the zodiac signs.
Triple Aspects of the Moon
In Celtic tradition the Moon’s cyclic phases are associated and identified with the Triple Moon-goddess, symbolic of the most enchanting, the most awesome and the prophetic aspects of the Moon. Named Arianrhod, Lady of the Silver Wheel by Welsh bards her name declares hr hand in the destiny of humanity. The Irish Celts the triple aspects are represented by Brigantia, the radiance of the New Moon, Dana, the fertility of the Full Moon and The Morrigan, the waning of the Dark Moon.
© JG Farmer 2014